With two athletes in high school now I am so happy to know that our high school and state have placed a priority on concussion awareness and education in all sports at the high school level. I was at the school earlier this week for fall sports night – a night where ALL fall athletes and their parents must attend to get information from the administration on academic eligibility, expectations and concussion awareness. Every athlete in the school from the cheerleaders to the swimmers to the cross country runners to the football players and everyone in between must go through the ImPACT test when they first join the team so there is baseline data on every athlete in the event they suffer a head injury.
What is the ImPACT test? From the ImPACT website:
ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) is the first, most-widely used, and most scientifically validated computerized concussion evaluation system. ImPACT was developed to provide useful information to assist qualified practitioners in making sound return to play decisions following concussions.
If you have a student athlete who does a “non-impact” sport, you may not think that concussion education is important, but according to our school's principal, the first athlete they had to retest following a head injury was not a football player or a soccer player, it was SWIMMER who had stood up in the locker room after a hard race and passed out immediately hitting her head on a counter top as she fell. My son also suffered a head injury this spring while swimming when he misjudged the wall and ended up with five stitches in his forehead (no concussion though). So, really, you just never know and having that baseline data is just so important for managing a head injury when it occurs.
Did you know that 90% of concussion occur without the loss of consciousness? Did you know that the effects of a second and third injury have compounding repercussions if the initial injury is not completely healed?
When in doubt, as a parent or a coach, if you have an athlete that has sustained ANY LEVEL of head injury – with or without the loss of consciousness – sit them out and get them evaluated! There are more important things in life than playing hurt.
While it is great to see high schools, colleges and professional sports leagues taking concussion education and monitoring seriously, I would encourage pediatricians offices and/or youth sports leagues to offer baseline testing as well.
For more information on concussions in youth sports, concussion education and concussion testing, see the following articles:
- Virginia Athletic Trainers Concussion Resource Page
- Find out if your state has state mandated concussion laws to protect your athletes
- New laws on concussions to protect student athletes
- Find out more about the ImPACT testing and how to get it into your athlete's school or league
- Mouthguards as a concussion prevention tool
- Girls soccer only second to football in concussion numbers
- New documentary explores female athletes and concussions
- Concussion information